Coal seam gas opponents will gather in Lismore and Grafton today calling on their state representatives to protect the region from invasive gasfields.
Meanwhile, mining company Metgasco has today announced that negotiations with the NSW Government have not resulted in a settlement of the matters between the company and the government.
The company announced it had paused formal discussions with the government and would initiate court action for damages over the suspension of the company’s 2014 drilling program.
The company also said it would prepare for a judicial review to have PEL 426 renewed and for the award of a production licence for PPLA 9; and conclude contractual ageements for a seismic acquisition program to the east of Lismore and for the drilling of the Rosella project near Bentley.
Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson said details of the seismic and drilling programs would be issued over the next few months as contract details, including drilling rig choice and availability, were concluded.
‘We expect the government will provide all necessary police protection to allow the lawful activities to be undertaken safely and securely and we were given assurances in this respect as part of our discussions with government,’ Mr Henderson said.
‘Metgasco would have preferred to settle its claim for 2014 suspension damages with the New South Wales Government out of court and is happy to resume good-faith discussions with government in this respect, but not at the expense of having to indefinitely suspend its business activities.’
Meanwhile, gasfield opponents are converging on the offices of local MPs today in Lismore and Grafton.
Gasfield Free Northern Rivers regional coordinator Elly Bird said opponents would be delivering flowers to ‘represent the hope that with the coming of spring it will be time for the northern rivers to bloom into a safe, secure gasfield free future’.
‘Our representatives need to update us on their efforts to buy back the licences in the Northern Rivers and how the negotiations with Metgasco are progressing,’ Ms Bird said.
‘After fighting for many years to remain gasfield free, our community needs some closure so we can get back to our lives.
‘We’re calling on the government give us some information, there’s so much sunshine about at the moment it’s strange we’re still in the dark.
‘We’ve been very patient but we’re starting to wonder what’s going on. They need to finish the job.’
Grafton Knitting Nanna Donna van Haren said it had been five months since the election and the revised September 30 deadline for licence buybacks was looming.
Time is slipping away and we haven’t still haven’t heard anything from government,’ Ms van Haren said.
‘We’ve heard nothing about negotiations with Metgasco, nothing about expired PEL 426 here in the Clarence and nothing about what our government is doing to secure a gasfield free northern rivers.
‘Meanwhile Metgasco’s latest quarterly report suggests they are still prepared to recommence drilling.
‘Our community deserves to know the truth. We want the government to tell us what’s happening.’
Community members will gather at at 12 noon at Chris Gulaptis office, 11 Prince St Grafton, and at Thomas George’s office at 55 Carrington St Lismore.
Metgasco recorded a $3.8 million loss in 2014-15 financial year as it continued with negotiations with the NSW Government over the future of its northern rivers operation.
In the report, the company acknowledged that the negotiations with the state government would determine the way forward.
The company has not ruled out recommencing drilling in the area, although the report indicates that it might leave the region if an adequate compensation package is negotiated.
The report also lists managing director Peter Henderson’s salary package as $612,000, of which includes a cash salary of $425,000 plus benefits, super and shares worth $90,000.
Mr Henderson has taken an $80,000 cut in his package since last year, when it was worth $705,000.